Those were primitive times. Imagine a passenger in these easy-going days calling to a driver or conductor to "Strike that bell!"
"H--l" is his abbreviation for Hannibal. He had first used it in a title of a poem which a few years before, during one of Orion's absences, he had published in the paper. "To Mary in Hannibal" was too long to set as a display head in single column. The poem had no great merit, but under the abbreviated title it could hardly fail to invite notice. It was one of several things he did to liven up the circulation during a brief period of his authority.
The doubtful money he mentions was the paper issued by private banks, "wild cat," as it was called. He had been paid with it in New York, and found it usually at a discount--sometimes even worthless. Wages and money were both better in Philadelphia, but the fund for his mother's trip to Kentucky apparently did not grow very rapidly.
The next letter, written a month later, is also to Orion Clemens, who had now moved to Muscatine, Iowa, and established there a new paper with an old title, 'The Journal'.
To Orion Clemens, in Muscatine, Iowa:
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 28th, 1853. MY DEAR BROTHER, -I received your letter today. I think Ma ought to spend the winter in St. Louis. I don't believe in that climate--it's too cold for her.
The printers' annual ball and supper came off the other night. The proceeds amounted to about $1,000. The printers, as well as other people, are endeavoring to raise money to erect a monument to Franklin, but there are so many abominable foreigners here (and among printers, too,) who hate everything American, that I am very certain as much money for such a purpose could be raised in St. Louis, as in Philadelphia. I was in Franklin's old office this morning--the "North American" (formerly "Philadelphia Gazette") and there was at least one foreigner for every American at work there.
How many subscribers has the Journal got? What does the job-work pay? and what does the whole concern pay?.....